Macassar opens with a slight to moderately sweet boozy fruit laden dark woody accord before transitioning gradually to its early heart. As the composition enters its early heart the boozy fruit gradually recedes, as smooth leather melds with the sweet dark woods supported by hints of patchouli and carnation. During the late dry-down traces of the leather and woods remain as the focus shifts to a mildly sweet amber and relatively clean musk duo that finish off the development. Projection is good but longevity below average at 6-7 hours on skin.
Macassar ebony is an extremely rare exotic wood. It has been years since I encountered the stuff so I couldn't possibly remember with any precision what it should smell like. What I *can* say is Macassar the perfume does immediately conjure up memories of my limited experience with ebony wood, especially the top notes when first applied on skin. The dark sweet natural woody accord mixes perfectly with the booze drenched fruit and the later developing leather to recreate that fond memory from years past, accurate or not. Throughout the leathery woods also lie just hints of carnation and a bitter green herbal accord that is likely artemisia derived. The top and middle aspects of the composition really do smell rather unique and quite lovely. The only slight mar on the near-perfect smelling composition save its sub-par longevity lies in its late dry-down as the leathery dark woods recede, slowly giving way to a well-done smooth amber and musk tandem that is somewhat less unique. The bottom line is the discontinued $350+ per 100ml bottle on the aftermarket Macassar is a very unique leathery woods focused composition that conjures up some amazing memories, earning it an "excellent" 4 star out of 5 rating. I can easily recommend the composition fragrance-wise, but the near insane aftermarket prices it commands make sampling mandatory before ponying up the cash for a full bottle. Maybe a mini is a better investment to whip out whenever one wants to recreate those fond memories of the past.
Barbara Herman describes this as a "stunning leather/wood chypre."
Well, it certainly stuns, that's for sure. This is extremely harsh and unpleasant with the strength and power of undiluted turpentine, which it resembles.
The Patchouli and Cedar are overwhelming. Note below that Herman's notes for this scent are markedly different from those Basenotes provides above.
The bitter green artemesia opening mixed with pine is quickly followed by a sweet cedar heart, but the dry down which proceeds from that almost immediately is just awful to my nose (I have a 10 ml vintage decant). It's a wonder men who wore this were not stoned in the marketplace.
I've loved all the other Rochas fragrances I've tried: Madame Rochas, Mystere, Moustache, Tocade, Byzance, but this one is for me a clunker.
Top notes: Bergamot, Artemesia, Pine
Heart notes: Jasmine, Carnation, Patchouli, Geranium, Vetiver, Cedar
Base notes: Leather, Oakmoss, Castoreum, Amber, Olibanum, Musk
Practically a reference poster boy for the "Powerhouse Scent Award" of 1980.
First Edit: As I wear this, I find it comes down to pure, unadulterated harsh green vetiver and nothing else. Forget all the other ingredients listed - they could all be lies as far as I'm concerned. This is pure harsh vetiver. I can smell nothing else. I love vetiver, but could not recognize this initially under the other harsh notes until they had worn off.
29th August, 2014 (last edited: 03rd September, 2014)
What a great surprise! The opening of Macassar is one of those openings which instantly grab your attention for their uniqueness and quality. Basically, an amber-leather accord, really peculiar, ultramodern, fresh and dark, boozy and spicy, with also herbal notes and slight candied accents. It reminds a bit of that "gentle leathers" family which ranges from Bel Ami to Cuir Ottoman, but there is also a lot more. There is a terrific harmony of contrasts going on, a dusty and dry leather base blended with leafy tobacco notes, uncommon herbal notes (on the "culinary" side), with a beautiful ambery-floral-fruity side, delicate but present, warm and almost plushy in its coziness. Classic, more austere and conventional fougère drydown mostly comprising leather-mossy notes, still with spicy-floral nuances. For the first hour I basically kept thinking: "what an odd scent this is". In a totally positive way: it's exotic and mysterious, but also sophisticatedly Western in its soft and distinguished blend of amber and leather. Something to discover!
Macassar is a take-no-prisoners 1980s powerhouse poised (if I dare use the word,) somewhere between the tobacco drenched, Big, Fat, F*&%ing Fougeres like Jules and Havana and the hairy chested leathers like Antaeus and Van Cleef and Arpels. It's a loud, crude scent that wears heavy gold chains under its open shirt and chews with its mouth open, and by today's standards it is hopelessly dated. More a caricature of its genre than any scent I can recall, Macassar is one discontinued "classic" whose passing I do not mourn. Anybody nostalgic for this kind of scent would do well to seek out the much better crafted Jules, Havana, Or Black, or Lauder for Men, all of which pack just as much testosterone without drooling on their shirt fronts.
Unique in many ways
The loud, intensive, boozy absinthe top note is combined with some bay and ginger - a heavy and unique opening blast that remains somewhat undifferentiated on my skin. Then geranium is coming forth in the drydown. Later wood is gradually taking over. I am getting cedar initially, then an ebony-Macassar character with other wood notes that linger for a while. In the last hour I am getting mainly a sweetish quite restrained leather that is cower to my skin and gradually fading out. Very creatively composed too and base notes made of ingredients of the highest quality, but although he drydown is not without elegant power, it lacks some finesse on my skin. Longevity is well over three hours.